Tourists are only allowed a 28 day visa for Myanmar. I ended up staying for 28 days, and I’m so glad I did. This country has opened up to tourists only 5-10 years ago, and many parts of the country are still restricted to tourists.
The day here starts very early. Around 4 am, the local monastery will blast out their speakers. It’s for the monks to go out to the streets and get food from the locals. Some morning markets actually start at 2 am and finish by 5 am. For one of my train rides, I had to get up at 2.30am to go and buy the train ticket at 3 am, for it to leave at 4 am. This means by about 8 pm, there’s no one on the streets. At night time, the streets are run by stray dog gangs. I was told to do rock throwing gestures to get rid of them, apparently, that’s what the locals do. I hated running into them, I feel like my fake rocks were just not scary enough. So stopped going out too late.
People are lovely. Even in touristy places. They’ll try to sell me something, and I’ll tell them I don’t want to buy it, then they’ll follow me around showing cool local spots, not expecting anything in return. Though I heard a very elaborate scam in Yangon, I guess there are bad people anywhere you go.
On the train going through remote mountain villages, little kids will run out to wave their tiny hands at people on the trains. Must be their daily entertainment. Local ladies will bring out local produce and snacks to each train station, carrying everything on their heads. Every station will sell slightly different things, one station I’ll get Mangos, then at the next one I’ll get some corn on the cob. I ended up taking two pretty long train rides. One from Yangon to Kalaw, taking whopping 28 hours. And another one from Mandalay to Hsipaw taking 11 hours. I’m so glad I took the train and not the VIP night bus.
I can feel the wave of tourism coming in fast. Some travellers I met said some towns have developed a lot in the past year. I think in the next 5 years, they won’t have any more dusty dirt roads.
Myanmar is a huge country with so many unexplored territories. A lot of the unexplored places are a no-go zone for tourists, some due to local military conflicts. Crossing the land border to other countries is a bit hard, as the land going to the border crossing is blocked off for tourists.
It wasn’t initially in my plans to come to Myanmar, but nor was getting sick with Dengue fever. I’m so glad I ended up coming to this beautiful untouched country. Along with the meditation course, I leave feeling happy and content. I’m ready for India now 🙂